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ROTC Visits New York and Philly

Cadet Lizeth Ordonez at Ellis Island

Who says ROTC is just about drills, PT, and memorizing rank? Cadets from Piedmont’s JROTC embarked on a 4-day journey to New York City that allowed them to experience the many sights of the Big Apple. Cadets enjoyed a trip to Ellis Island, a visit to New York’s Times Square Toys R Us store, a tour of the Twin Towers Memorial, and a Broadway show.

You could feel the anticipation in the air on Thursday morning, never mind how early it was or how sleepy you were. There isn't quite the same a feeling as knowing you’re leaving your home and your family behind and going on an adventure miles away. It was totally worth it.

We said our good-byes, our promises of being safe and good the whole trip... eh, sure! Half-an-hour after our bus pulled out of the school parking lot, we were all singing and dancing for our new-found freedom! The bus we rode on had space for us forty-four cadets and some still left over for the chaperones. It was huge, towering over the little cars on the road, bringing smiles to our faces as we watched the kids below look up at us.

After several hours of driving we finally arrived to the Virginia State University to eat lunch, and you won't believe how huge the place was! It had apartments and the gigantic building I thought was part of the school was just a cafeteria. We formed up and went inside and found places to sit. To make it all better they told us we could get as much food as we wanted! Immediately we dashed to the kitchen where hamburgers, pizza, fries, soda, and even stuff for salad was there for all of us. This was a dream come true for everyone.

Finally, dragging ourselves out of the cafeteria, we made it back to our bus in one piece. We climbed in and headed to our next stop, the old battlefields of "Cold Harbor." The guide introduced us in and we began our tour. This was a one-mile tour, around a great plain where thousands of soldiers from both sides stood and fought each other until the bitter end. Walking through that leafy, green forest you could imagine the screaming, the smell of the gunpowder and the thumps of the answering bodies hitting the forest floor. I imagined the crouched soldiers hiding in the first trenches used in war, terrified but determined never to lose.

It was something I'd never imagined before, never thought of or noticed. That being in a place like that could send me back and hear the barking voice of the officers. The chills you could have watching the fox-holes and really think about how they were used, that they weren't dug for fun.

Leaving the great battlefield behind we rode onto a rest area in Maryland before finally arriving at our cabins! We unpacked in our separate cabins, boys in one, girls in another. Everyone was exhausted. We fell into a deep sleep, prepping up for an early morning call to visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

We woke up early, before the sun rose, got dressed and ready for another day away from home. We explored the streets of Philly noticing the old architecture and felt a meaning on these streets. It was home to one of the most important reforms our country has seen. We got a close look at the home of the Declaration and Constitution. The fountains in the park where we ate our prized and famous Philly Cheese steak sandwiches, the old woodwork and style spoke of a strange time not really so far back in our history. These buildings still stand, urging us to remember those days of glory in the early years of our great republic.

After yet another night of good rest in the cabins, we rode for New Jersey! Taking the fanciest ferry I've ever been on with actual decks on it, we made it to the Statue of Liberty! Humongous! It rose up into the sky and rumor has it that it used to be the color of shiny copper and used to be so bright when the sun hit it that you had to look away from it! I wish we could have gotten to climb to the top. I can't imagine the view from up there.

Ellis Island, our last stop before New York City, had a museum and the registry hall where millions of people got into the United States. New York could be seen from across the river, and climbing aboard another ferry I felt nervous and excited to be so close to a place known around the world. When we got there, everyone seemed jolted awake like they were just waiting to be here, thinking of this and only this. It was huge with tall buildings all around you. And so many people walking around. So different from our homes.

One of my favorite places we stopped at was, believe it or not; New York’s Times Square Toys r Us! It was the most awesome place! It went two floors up and another down. Filled to the brink with any kind of toy you could imagine. There were giant Lego figures, workers making magic and a giant T-rex moving and roaring all on its own!

But nothing could compare to the feeling and emotion I felt when we went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I walked by the names of the people on the wall and I felt them in their letters home engraved on the memorial. Or the stories of the three heroes that we read there. It was amazing but tragic, because I knew they wanted to come home and they made it in the end.

The Twin Towers Memorial was impressive to say the least. It was massive, with amazing cascades of water and the names of the people who passed away engraved in metal on the rim of those cascades. I felt a peace inside. There in that place I felt a peace and calm that I rarely ever feel, a nice cold breeze hitting you just right and letting it set you at ease. I haven't yet forgotten it. How could I, with the unfinished Liberty Tower watching over us. All that and more we saw from the forty-first floor of the giant AIG building, to get a unique and amazing view.

Our adventure is almost but not quite over! I didn't tell you of the Broadway play we saw, "Memphis". At first I was, eh, about it. I wasn't very excited. But as it went on, the actors surprised me! The script got me almost jumping up and down with excitement. I was amazed and clapped at every pause just like the rest of the audience. It left me missing New York; a truly very unique place!

Sadly, that's the end of our adventure miles away from home. The people, the food, the sheer energy of the place! No wonder it's the city that never sleeps! There's no place quite like it, and I'd go back in a heartbeat, or a New York minute. But not alone, yes? I suspect I'll have lots of new faces coming along with me next time.
 

Written by: Cadet SSgt Miguel Sanchez
Posted: Apr 20, 2012 by April Dawkins

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